KERALA FAIRS & FESTIVALS
Chittur Conganpada Festival
Kerala, once a land of small kingdoms, had witnessed several pitched battles. Few in the state commemorate the war victories of their forefathers. However, people of Chittor in Palakkad district had assimilated a story of triumph into their cultural veins and in every February (on first Monday after the dark lunar in Kumbam, Malayalam calendar) they remember a war they had fought and won; Konganpada, the only war festival in the state. The history of this festival is interwoven with myths.
Konganpada recollects a war the Chittor Nairs fought against King Rajadhi Raja of Kong dynast from Coimbathore in which the former won. Chittorians believe that Goddess Bhagavathy saved them from the Chola King.
(According to historical version Kings of Kongu attacked Palakkad and the King of Kochin with the help of Zamorins defeated them. and Konganpada is being celebrated to keep alive that great victory. The festival begins with chilambu; recalling Konganpada’s declaration of the war and a perturbed Chittor people thronging the Goddess Bhagavathy pleading to save them from the ordeal. Next morning a flag is hoisted indicating their readiness for the war.
When dusk falls, people gather near the temple premise ands after three popgun shots march to a place supposed to be the battleground. Oracle leads the procession while others hold torches. At midnight the procession returns from the battleground.
Next morning procession resumes from a nearby kavu, this time with colour and festivity. Girls are being paraded in men’s wear (kolam) on the ground that the Goddess encountered the Konganpada in man’s robs. Cultural programmes are also staged in the pageant. In the evening the procession encircles the temple and a messenger from Konganpada reads scroll declaring the war.
About 10pm Kongan appears and the symbolic war begins. Rival groups run the horses to and fro to recreate a battlefield- like situation. After this Kongan team retreats. A few persons feign death whose bodies are being taken back to their wailing relatives. Later the festival ends with an hour-long percussion. This may be one of the bizarre festivals in the state.
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